With one deadline already passed, the Japanese government worked hastily today to meet the ransom demands make by hijackers of an airliner still loaded with hostages at the airport in Dacca, Bangladesh.
Five of the hostages were released yesterday and one of them, Carole Wells Karabian of Motercy, Calif., said the hijackers were armed with guns and grenades.
The five men seized the airliner Wednesday in the name of the Japanese Red Army had been "very rough" on the hostages at first but later become more relaxed, she said.
The Japanese government yesterday agreed to pay a $6 million ransom and release nine prisoners to save the hostages. Including the five hijackers, there are still 151 persons still on the Japan Air Line DC-8.
A Thursday midnight deadline passed without incident in Dacca and the Japanese government said it could not begin transporting the money and prisoners before noon today, Tokyo time. The hijackers responded by setting a new deadline of 7 a.m. Saturday (6 p.m. Friday EDT)
According to government officials, two of the prisoners have rejected offers of freedom. A special plane was being readied here for the trip to Dacca and the government was putting together 60,000 $100 bills as specified by the hijackers. Some of the bills were being sough in New York.
In Dacca, airport authorities said the armed men had asked that breakfast be brought to them and the hostages at 8 a.m. today.
The Japanese government's prompt agreement to meet the demands reportedly angreed police officials and prosecutors in Tokyo. Justice Minister Hajime Fukuda said he safety of the hostages had to be considered all other factors.
Seven of the prisoners are in jail for various acts of political terrorism and the other two are a convicted murder and a robber. Police officials had particularly objected to releasing the two non-political prisoners.
News reports said that Toshio Omurs, jailed for setting a bomb in a government office in 1969, had rejected a release because he does not agree ideologically with the hijackers. Another, Isao Chinen, who was accused of throwing a bomb at Crown Prince Akihito in 1975, also refused the offer.
There was no explanation of how the five hijackers got aboard the airliner with guns and grenades.The plane was commandeered shortly after leaving the Bombay airport enroute to Bangkok and Tokyo. The flight had originated in Pris.
Most of the 146 hostages remaining in the airliner at Dacca were Japanese. There were 12 Americans aboard when it was seized, the airline company estimated.
The hijackers had threatened to kill the hostages one by one, beginning with California banker Joe Gabriel, if their demands were not heeded. They said they would fly on to another undesignated airport as soon as the money and prisoners arrive. The destination was not know but sources here specualted the plans might go to Syria or Libya.
Mrs. Karabian said the five men took over the plan shorty after takeoff at Bombay and ordered passengers not to move and not to look at their faces.
They identified themselves as members of the Japanese Red Army, a small radical organization that has been considered inactive for the past two years. It has claimed responsibility for several acts of terrorism in Asia and the Middle East since being formed out a number of Japanese radical groups in the 1960s. Police estimate its membership at no more than 30 persons.
Authorities in Dacca identified the 4 persons released with Mrs. Karabian as K. Krueger and G. Verghese, his wife and their one-year-old son. The Verghese family was said to be carrying Indian passports.
The Los Angeles Times said the Vergheses live in Glendora, Calif., and identified Krueger as Kurt Krueger, a resident of Granada Hills, Calif.
Mrs. Karabian's husband Walter, a former California state assemblyman, remained a hostage as did the banker, John Gabriel.
The hijackers had been "terribly rough" with their prisoners but relaxed after negotiations started, Mrs Karabian said.